The Role of Ethics in Project Management

A Code of Ethics is a guiding set of principles professionals use to run their business with integrity, honesty, and accountability.

Why have a profession-based Code of Ethics?

In addition to declaring what the professional should or should not do, the code also describes:

  • How standards are upheld.
  • How decisions are made.
  • How problems are approached and solved.
  • How values are put to work within one’s business.

Why should clients care?

There are universal expectations when hiring experts or specialists in almost every field, whether we’re talking about attorneys, doctors, hair stylists, auto mechanics, or caterers.

While there are legal controls to prevent certain illegal behaviors, many practices appear legal yet aren’t necessarily ethical, based on professional standards of conduct.  

We all hope that when we hire service providers, we can trust them and believe they will:

  • Treat us fairly.
  • Communicate with us honestly.
  • Protect our sensitive information.
  • Offer pricing that is fair and consistent with the value being delivered.
  • Do their best to be sure clients are satisfied with their services.
  • Resolve issues when clients are not satisfied.

In addition, we trust and believe they will NOT:

  • Share or sell client information.
  • Promise to deliver results they can’t produce or control.
  • Artificially inflate or deemphasize information reported to their clients.

A Code of Ethics helps ensure standard agreement across a profession regarding interactions with employees, clients, suppliers, and other professionals. In addition, it encourages all practitioners to promote their industry as honest, trustworthy, and accountable to acceptable standards of conduct.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) Code of Ethics

The Project Management Institute (PMI) established its PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct as a philosophical framework to help all its members and partners become better practitioners by adopting a profession-wide articulation and understanding of appropriate behavior.

They recognized this Code of Ethics as vital, including it in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK). Understanding this comprehensive code is a requirement of PMI’s professional certifications, including Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).

The PMI Code of Ethics encompasses four core values as its foundation:1

  • Responsibility is our duty to take ownership for the decisions we make or fail to make, the actions we take or fail to take, and the consequences that result.
  • Respect is our duty to show high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us. Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources. An environment of respect engenders trust, confidence, and performance excellence by fostering cooperation—an environment where diverse perspectives and views are encouraged and valued.
  • Fairness is our duty to make decisions and act impartially and objectively. Our conduct must be free from competing self-interest, prejudice, and favoritism.
  • Honesty is our duty to understand the truth and act in a truthful manner both in our communications and in our conduct.

In addition, the PMI articulated their Ethical Decision-Making Framework (EDMF) to describe steps a project management professional can take to make a decision when confronted with an ethical dilemma. 

At Thurman Co., we embrace the PMI Code of Ethics as more than just a convenient set of guidelines; it’s an element of the foundational framework at the very core of how we operate and interact with clients, suppliers, and partners.

We help businesses manage projects to significantly impact their success and growth. When you’re ready to put your project in the hands of a trusted professional organization, contact us to learn more about working together. 

1 Project Management Institute (PMI) website: Code Values Card

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